As I cover the book of Leviticus with my fifth grade students, we discuss just how “bloody” the covering of our sin really is.  We look at the sacrifices.  We look at the detailed requirements.  We look at the One True Lamb and are grateful for His once-for-all sacrifice.

All that to say, I never really considered the work of the priest in all of that, at least I didn’t until today.  When reading Exodus 29, I was struck with the sacrifice that Aaron and his sons made to serve as priests.  There is nothing pretty or glamorous about their job.  Even their consecration required them to take the blood of their offering and  “sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments, and on his sons and his sons’ garments with him.”

Wow!  Never was there a clearer picture of how important it is that we who serve the Lord be willing to “get dirty” for the sake of The Calling.  We can’t just stand idly by and expect the Lord’s work to get done.  We have to have ourselves cleaned, and then get busy getting dirty in order to help others get clean!

Advertisements

It will never cease to amaze me at how I can know the “big picture” of the Old Testament, but yet be captivated by some small, little detail that I had never heard, or taken notice of, before.

In Exodus 23, after the declaration of the law, the Lord begins to tell the Children of Israel about where they are going.  He doesn’t give them specifics about the land, but rather tells them what He is going to send before them.  He says He is sending an angel before them to lead them.  [Interestingly, He says of the angel, “my name is in him.”  That very well could be the Angel of the Lord that signifies a pre-incarnate Christ.]  He says He is sending His terror before them to make their enemies turn and run.  And finally, He says He is sending hornets before them to drive out the enemies.  (The term “hornets” carries the Hebrew connotation of piercing, striking, or scourging, but not with the Israelites sword or bow.)  All of that is so incredible in and of itself, but it was the next two verses that really caught my attention

29 I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you.

30 Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land.

Exodus 23:29-30

Did you notice that God was going to clear the land little by little – He had a very good reason for doing so, a reason that was in Israel’s best interest, but I’m sure that when they were actually going through their enemies one by one, they didn’t think it was a good plan!  Their God could have wiped out all of the enemies at once, and yet they had to be satisfied with the little by little.

I can only imagine my reaction to this little by little idea if I was living back then, but I know my reaction today!  I want everything handled NOW.  I don’t want to wait.  I don’t want to face little challenges here and there on the way.  I want it all taken care of at once.  There in lies the problem, if things were done as I want them to be done, rather than how God knows they should be done, there are going to be bigger issues to face in the end.

Question for the Day:  Am I willing to let God’s timing of little by little guide me, or am I going to insist on my timing and end up with desolate land and wild beasts?

Dear Lord,

Please help me to learn to wait on you.  You alone know the end from the beginning, and you alone know what is best for me.

I love it when the Lord allows one little idea to jump out at you from His word.  One little statement given to a group of people over a thousand years ago that resonates with you today.  That’s what the beginning of my devotional reading was like this morning.

If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it.   Exodus 20:25

The Children of Israel had just seen the Lord speak the Ten Commandments from Mt. Sinai, and now He is giving them instructions about what their response should be when He speaks to them.   God gives a very clear explanation of how they are to build the altar on which they sacrifice burnt offerings to Him.  If they build the altar out of stone, it is not to be stone that they cut themselves, because cutting it themselves would profane it.  The Greek for the word profane brings with it the connotation of polluting it or violating the honor of it.

The instructions seem pretty clear, the Lord didn’t want them working to make the stones “perfect” in their eyes.  The perfection of the stones isn’t what the Lord wanted them to focus on.  The Lord wanted their focus and attention to be given solely to Him.

At that moment a little light came on in my head.  I know we don’t offer sacrifices on altars today, instead we worship Him with our lives.  But that makes this principle even more poignant:   God isn’t interested in how “perfect” my worship becomes.  He isn’t interested in even how “perfect” I become.  All He wants is my full focus.  Putting the emphasis on how it appears instead of on the One to whom the worship is given pollutes the worship and dishonors the One I am worshiping.

Dear Lord,

With so many responsibilities that I have in serving you, please help me to remember that my whole life is to be focused on you, and not on how perfect I can make it appear to everyone else.

After a break to read through the book of James with a wonderful group of girlfriends, I’m actually pretty excited to back to reading through the Bible, picking up where I left off with the Children of Israel readying themselves to leave Egypt.

What an exciting spot to pick up the story!  They are ready to go, the Egyptians are giving them their gold and other valuables.  They head out – going the long way around because the Lord knows that facing a waring people like the Philistines wouldn’t be in their best interest at this point.  (God knew them / knows us so well – Psalm 103:14 He remembers that we are dust.)  God provides the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud to guide them.   He leads them to the edge of the Red Sea and makes them camp out there.  To catch their breath?  Maybe.  To see the hand of God at work?  Most definitely!

Most people are familiar with the story.  As they are there, the Egyptian army, led by a Pharaoh with a very short memory, comes flying up behind them.  And immediately we see that the Children of Israel suffer from the same short memory.  They hysterically begin asking Moses if he brought them out there to die because there wasn’t enough graves in Egypt.  (Got to love how dramatic they are!)  That’s the story we all know.  I’ve heard it a million times and taught it at least that many myself.  However, today the Lord pointed out a tiny little verse stuck in the middle of that account.  Before the big miracle of the parting of the Red Sea.  Before the big finish of the Egyptian army drowning.  Before anything else happens, Moses tells the people,

Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

In that one verse, there is a whole lot the Children of Israel are asked to do:

1.  “Fear not” – What looks like a big problem to you, isn’t to God.  He is completely capable of caring for the problem, working out the situation, handling the issue.  It begs the question, “How big is my God, really?”

2.   “Stand firm” – Don’t run away in panic.  Don’t hide from the problem.  That’s pretty hard to do, especially when we can’t see how-on-earth God could take care of the situation.

3. “See the salvation of the Lord” / “The Lord will fight for you” – We can put complete confidence in the all-mighty, all-knowing, ever loving God, that He will care for the situation as He sees fit.  (“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28)

4.  “You have only to be silent” – But that’s the HARD part. . .  for me at least – and I’m guessing for many others as well.  Notice it is not,  “You have only to fuss about it to your best friend.”  Nor is it, “You have only to share it as a prayer request with everyone.” – although that isn’t always a bad thing. And finally, notice it is isn’t “You have only to beg and plead as if that is the only way you can get God to hear you so He knows there is a problem and knows how you think it is best handled.”  That’s where I seem to be stuck. . .  I re-read the verse, and it doesn’t say that.  It simply says “be silent.”

I can pray.  But prayer isn’t an opportunity to advise God.

I can call out to Him.  But calling out isn’t just begging and pleading for my way.

I can be silent.  And in that heart-silence, I can pray to simply see God, and that He will help me stand firm knowing that God will fight for me so I need not fear.

Dear Lord,

With each difficult situation that I face, help me work on the hard part of being silent and waiting to see You show Yourself strong on my behalf.

Have you ever known God was with you – known that God was in control – known that God is working all thing for your good – known all these things, and yet when you go to look for God, you just can’t see Him?

In my reading of Job, I found he expresses those exact sentiments:

“But if I go to the east, he is not there;    if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;    when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.   (Job 23:8-9)
 

I felt that way when my mom passed away.  I felt that way when my dad passed away.  I felt that way when I got the call from my doctor with an “It’s cancer.”  I felt that way when my husband lost his job.  As I read those verse, my heart could only think – Oh, Job, I’ve felt that way too!!

 

But the key is in the next verse:

But He knows the way that I take:  when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.  (Job 23:10)

 

It’s almost as if Job is saying I don’t see Him – but He sees me. . .

 

I felt that assurance when I realized in God’s perfect timing, my mom had been alive to see me marry a man who would truly love me and care for me.  I felt that assurance when I stood alone by the casket at my dad’s funeral – alone, but surrounded by so many prayers and so much support.  I felt that assurance when Steve and I had our first meeting with my cancer surgeon and her professionalism and ready smile put us both at ease.  If I felt that assurance all those times, what would make the loss of Steve’s job any different?

 

Sure, I can say But I don’t see Him! When in reality it doesn’t mater if I can see Him,  because no matter what – He sees me!

 

Dear Lord,

Thank you for being my El Roi – the God who sees me!

I know God has a perfect sense of timing – that absolutely nothing happens that’s not in His time and under His control, but today I must admit, God also has a sense of humor.  This morning I started my Good Morning, Girls study of James, and part of my notes for the morning included the question:  “What does it look like to “count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds”? I do have a pretty good idea, but in light of Steve recently loosing his job, I was wondering how would it actually be lived out.

Here’s where God’s sense of timing and sense of humor come into play!

I’ve been struggling with reading through the Bible chronologically when I have to jump back and forth between books – the list I was using had me jumping back and forth between Genesis and the recorded history of  I Chronicles.  So, today I found a new list that kept me more in one book, just putting the books in chronological order.  I was ahead of the list by several chapters, so I looked back to see what they had included that I hadn’t yet read, and wouldn’t you know it – it was the book of Job!

Darlene:  What does it look like to ‘count it all joy’?

God:  Well, let’s take a look at my servant, Job.

Perfect timing!  Perfect example! Perfectly amazing God!

 

Dear Lord,

May I never cease to be amazed by your awesomeness.  May I realize that You desire to be intimately involved in every aspect of my life – even the tough times.  And may I rest in the fact that Your timing is always perfect.

Sometimes you just have to laugh at the Lord’s timing.  I’m reading through the Bible this year and already I’ve  come across several examples of people learning to wait for God’s timing and learning to trust that God will always do what is best in His perfect schedule.

 

Sure it’s all good when it’s a Bible character learning it.  We can look at them and say, with our heads shaking and a slightly disapproving tone, “You should have just trusted the Lord.”  We look so disappointedly at them when they try to make it work on their own rather than trusting God. The “Tsk, Tsk, Tsk,” is almost audible.

 

It’s all well and good when it’s them learning it – but it’s not so easy when it’s us learning those same lessons.  It’s not so easy to admit your dear husband’s well has been filled, and now he has to start all over.  It’s not so easy to know in your head that the Lord will provide, as your heart is wondering when the needed job offer will come.  it’s not so easy – – – it’s just plain hard!

 

Dear Lord,

Help us to know in our heads and in our hearts that you are a God who can be trusted.  What you provided and taught these people in the Old Testament, you can provide and teach us today.